Who is Miss Abigail?

Abigail Grotke
Silver Spring, MD
email: missabigail at missabigail dot com
twitter: @DearMissAbigail

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Miss Abigail has a collection of over 1,000 classic advice books, spanning from 1822 to 1978 and covering a variety of topics, from love and romance to etiquette and charm. The collection sparked the idea for this site, then a book, Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage, which has inspired an Off-Broadway production of the same name!


Archive for July, 2007

1966: Country Life

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

I’m in Vermont for a few days of R&R; and found a few books at a used bookshop in Brattleboro:

Lao Russell’s Love; a scientific and living philosophy of love and sex;

A 1980 reprint of the 1768 The delights of wisdom concerning conjugial love: after which follow, the pleasures of insanity concerning scortatory love by Emanuel Swedenborg;


Sex after Forty, which could come in handy now that I’m of that age.

To give you a taste, and to follow up on the nature theme, and since I’m in Vermont enjoying it’s beauty, here’s an excerpt from Russell’s book. It’s from a little section called “Country Life.”

One who loves country life always feels sorry for those who have not discovered the exciting and beautiful world of Nature. No one can ever be lonely as he walks in the woods and discovers the pulsing, singing, courageous, growing trees, and the bright, glowing beauty of wild flowers–an endless array of them. Each month you discover another species. Did you know that there are actually about twenty-five kinds of chickweeds? Their little white flowers contain tiny capsules of small seeds that songbirds love.

Nature is far more exciting than odor-filled cities whose streets are filled with raucous noises, instead of the sound of the songs of birds, the rustle of leaves, falling twigs, and the “chatter” of wildlife both far and near. . . .

No life is as exciting as forest life, and yet man crowds into cities where there is tension created by man who all too often desires to build transitory wealth for his body, instead of permanent wealth for his Soul.

Ah, with that, I’ll head back out into the woods. I’ve been on the computer way too long!

R.I.P. Albert Ellis

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

Albert Ellis, author of such classics as Sex and the Single Man and the American Sexual Tragedy, among other titles, died this week. The New York Times (registration required) had a nice obit.

1952: Are You Ready for a Hike?

Monday, July 9th, 2007

Well, we’re certainly in the thick of summer, as is apparent here in very steamy District of Columbia Metropolitan area. And I’m sure everyone trying to figure out what to do to keep cool yet get out of the house, to enjoy a bit of nature. As Evelyn Millis Duvall writes in Love and the Facts of Life (which can be taken to heart by courting fools as well as groups of singles and married folk, I’d say) “some of the most enjoyable dates are those spent at picnics, around barbeque fires, swimming, skating, singing, playing folk games, and other such informal outings.”

But such fun, informal outings aren’t without danger, as William A. Evans warns us in Everyday Safety. He’s a bit less cavalier than Ms. Duvall, and in addition to safety tips about swimming, boating, and building a fire, he provides these helpful hints on hiking through the woods.

Hiking through the fields and woods is great fun. To enjoy a good hike it is important that you be properly dressed for the occasion. Good heavy-soled shoes are the first thing needed if you plan to walk very far. Girls should wear low-heeled shoes; to have a good time one must be comfortable, and there is less danger of turning one’s ankle if low-heeled shoes are worn. Full-length trousers, slacks, or heavy stockings should be worn in order to protect the legs. The other clothing should be comfortably loose and not too heavy because the exercise keeps one warm. It is a good plan to wear a jacket or shirt with full-length sleeves in order to protect the arms.

One of the things which most frequently spoils the fun of being out in the woods or fields is infection from poison ivy, poison oak, sumac, or other kinds of weeds. Some persons seem to be immune from such poisoning while others are poisoned even by wild daisies, ragweeds, or smart weeds. There is also the danger of infection from scratches caused by briars, thorns, burrs, and splinters.

If that quote didn’t depress you enough, you might be interested in another from this book, on Carelessness. And if you’re thinking ahead to winter, here’s another from killjoy Evans.

On that note, I hope you are having a fun summer. But not too much fun! Be careful out there!